A study by start-up CUSP into the volumes of single-use plastic packaging waste generated in Mayo has identified hotspots in terms of volumes, which, it said, if given priority, would see significant reductions in the amounts generated in the county each year.
Cusp stated: "Mayo households generate a combined 7,900 tonnes of single-use plastic packaging waste annually. That’s enough single-use plastic waste to fill 175 Olympic-size swimming pools.
"According to the study, Castlebar has the biggest mountain to climb at 731 tonnes annually, with Ballina coming in second at 616 tonnes. Westport and Claremorris come in next at 331 tonnes and 223 tonnes respectively."
CUSP (Cease Using Single-Use Plastic ) was established in 2018 to develop solutions to this burgeoning crisis, their founder, Simon Ruddy said, adding: "Our research found consumers are put off trying to reduce their single-use plastic waste by the continuous reporting of the crises in the ‘millions of tonnes.
"This leaves people wondering ‘what’s the point trying to reduce… my small contribution is hardly going to make any difference’.
"CUSP takes the big global numbers on single-use plastic waste, the ‘millions of tonnes’ we read about frequently and distils these numbers down into smaller bite-size reduction targets community groups and households can more easily relate to; all delivered via CUSP’s user-friendly, free mobile app."
The other towns in Mayo covered in the study were Claremorris, Achill Island, Ballyhaunis, Foxford, Kiltimagh, Crossmolina, Charlestown, Belmullet, Knock, Balla and Newport.
To achieve 70 per cent reductions by 2030 Mayo needs to reduce single-use plastic waste from its current 7,900 tonnes annually to 2,370 tonnes annually by 2030, requiring an average annual reduction of 550 tonnes.
Ruddy continued, saying: "In order to achieve this CUSP is asking Mayo households to reduce by just 1kg each month, from a current monthly average of 14kgs per household.
"Simply identify your 1kg monthly reduction using the free CUSP app and repeat that same 1kgs reduction each month for 12 months; then repeat the process with a further 1kg reduction for the next 12 months and so on, each year through 2030. All calculations and conversions-to-kilograms are done automatically for you. 1kg is equivalent in weight to 18 empty 2ltr single-use plastic drinks bottles for example.
"Plastic drinks bottles are just one option of course. With single-use plastic packaging ubiquitous across every category of consumer goods, participants have multiple options when planning their 1kg reduction. When testing the app in my own home last year we found our initial 1kg reduction by swapping-out plastic egg trays and plastic orange juice bottles."
The CUSP app is free to download for both android and iOS devices.